UN expert urges world powers to reconsider G20 Riyadh summit

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A United Nations expert who investigated the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi has called on world powers to reconsider holding the next G20 summit in Saudi Arabia.

Agnes Callamard, the UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, in a report last month found “credible evidence” that linked Saudi Arabia’s powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) to the killing of Khashoggi.

Callamard, who presented her report to the UN but does not speak for it, said on Tuesday that the next G20 summit, scheduled for November 2020 in Riyadh, offered a chance to pressure Saudi Arabia.

“Political accountability for Mr Khashoggi will mean that it doesn’t happen or it’s moved elsewhere, or something is being done to ensure that the political system in the US and in other countries does not become complicit of that international crime,” Callamard said at the Brookings Institution in Washington, DC.

TheG20is an international leaders’ forum comprising 19 countries and theEuropean Union. Collectively, the grouping represents more than 80 percent of the world’s economic output and two-thirds of its people. Its primary aim is to promote international financial stability.

Activists protesting the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi hold a candlelight vigil outside Saudi Arabia's consulate in Istanbul, Thursday, Oct. 25, 2018. The posters read in Arabic:' Khas

Saudi Arabia has repeatedly denied the involvement of MBS in Khashoggi’s killing [Lefteris Pitarakis/AP Photo]

‘West selling rogue theory’

The UN rapporteur said it was crucial to recognise that a state carried out the killing of Khashoggi, who was strangled and dismembered shortly after he entered the Saudi consulate in the Turkish city of Istanbul in October last year to handle wedding paperwork.

Saudi Arabia has repeatedly denied the involvement of MBS.

Saudi officials initially denied Khashoggi’s killing at the consulate, saying he had left the premises. The kingdom changed its narrative several times before later acknowledging he was killed, blaming “rogue” security agents.

The Saudi public prosecutor indicted 11 unnamed suspects in November, including five who could face the death penalty on charges of ordering and committing the crime.

Referring to the Saudi contention that out-of-control agents were responsible, Callamard said: “So far the Western governments that have adopted individualised targeted sanctions – which, by the way, are good – are also selling the ‘rogue’ theory by so doing.

“So it’s really important to insist on what we do vis-a-vis the state of Saudi Arabia, not some 15, 17 individuals,” she added.

Callamard also called for sanctions to restrict Saudi access to surveillance technology, saying the government has shown it “cannot be trusted” with it.

US PresidentDonald Trump‘s administration has slapped sanctions on individuals but vowed to preserve warm ties with Saudi Arabia due in part to its purchases of US weapons and its hostility to Iran.

Meeting MBS at the last G20 on Saturday in Osaka, Trump said Prince Mohammed was doing a “spectacular job”.

Callamard said she had not “yet” held talks at the White House during her visit to Washington, DC.

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